Things That Matter

John Leguizamo Just Put Everyone On Blast With New York Times Essay

CREDIT: THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT / CBS

“John, you’re so talented, but too bad you’re Latin — otherwise you’d be so much further along.”

In a recent essay written for the New York Times, John Leguizamo fires shots at the apathy — from politicians to those in Hollywood — that leads them to overlook Latinos in the U.S. The veteran actor-comedian begins by revealing he’s often told he would have been a bigger star if he wasn’t Latino. Leguizamo says the lack of respect for Latinos didn’t begin with Trump. “We have grown up amid an entrenched disrespect for Latin culture, and we have often internalized that disrespect,” writes Leguizamo. He believes Donald Trump is only parroting what the media has been telling us for years. “Without media representation expanding to include more Latin faces and voices, we are vulnerable to a demagogue like Mr. Trump claiming that we are all ‘drug dealers,’ ‘rapists’ and ‘criminals.'”

“We need a Latino Spring in this country.”

John Leguizamo understands prejudice, and he doesn’t hold back when fighting against it. In just a few hundred words, he eloquently enumerates many of the contributions Latinos have made to this country, and he anguishes over the outright lack of respect that many of us still face on a daily basis. When he finally calls for a Latino Spring, he’s speaking from a place of anger and also hope. Closing out his piece, The Guiz doubles down on his stance: “Latinos need to demand our place in American history, and in corporate, political and social fields. We must demand an equal share of the American dream, and not accept a downgraded version of it.”

Check John Leguizamo’s amazing essay over at the New York Times.

[H/T] NYT: ‘Too Bad You’re Latin’


READ: Jorge Ramos’ “Hate Rising” Explores The Racism Infecting The U.S.

You Can’t Argue That John Leguizamo Isn’t Doing The Work To Uplift The Latino Community Every Day

Entertainment

You Can’t Argue That John Leguizamo Isn’t Doing The Work To Uplift The Latino Community Every Day

johnleguizamo / Instagram

Among the Latino celebrities that have made their political ideals crystal clear, we can certainly count actor John Leguizamo, who for more than two decades has been a force to be reckoned with both in Hollywood and independent cinema. John Alberto Leguizamo was born in Bogota, Colombia, on July 22, 1964. He is also a US citizen. Leguizamo has acted in small indie films such as Summer of Sam, but also in high profile franchises including John Wick and Ice Age. Leguizamo is as mainstream as it gets while retaining a humble personality. He has said: “I see the new Latin artist as a pioneer, opening up doors for others to follow.” He is proud of his language and his people. 

Leguizamo has worked with the likes of legendary filmmakers Spike Lee and George Romero while being unapologetic about his clear disdain for those in politics that incite division and perpetuate injustice. Here are some key moments of Leguizamo’s political activism and the never-ending fight for Latino rights. 

When he wrote an incendiary op-ed for The New York Times in 2016, right before the election.

Credit: Screenshot. The New York Times.

It was fantastic, and it was titled “Too Bad You’re Latin.” It was a real call to action. “We need a Latino Spring in this country,” he wrote. “We need to demand power and equal opportunity”. Of course, he aimed his guns at POTUS: “Donald J. Trump has done one good thing. He has galvanized a conflicted and diverse community. For years, activists and politicians have struggled to get Latinos to vote and show their power.”

When he narrated the HBO documentary The Latin Explosion: A New America.

Credit: The Latin Explosion: A New America / HBO

Latino culture in the United States has gone mainstream, and popular culture outside of Spanish-speaking circles is dictated by what celebrities such as Shakira, Sofía Vergara, and Ricky Martin do. Leguizamo celebrates the many accomplishments of Latinos in the entertainment industry by narrating this documentary feature. 

When he boycotted Saturday Night Live over a Donald Trump hosting gig.

Credit: john-leguizamo-donald-trump-yahoo. Digital image. Screener TV

In 2015, after Trump initially enraged the Latino community describing Mexican migrants as “rapists”, Leguizamo collected signatures opposing the then candidate’s appearance in the show. He said: “What he says doesn’t even fall into the category of (politically correct). It is hate mongering. I hope what I do in my work is not denigrating or belittling. I mean, I’m all for freedom of speech, don’t get me wrong. I believe in freedom of speech. This is different. If he had said those things about any other ethnic group, he would not be on SNL.” Preach, Johnny!

When he played Raymond Santana Sr., a proud father in When They See Us.

Credit: When They See Us / Netflix 

Leguizamo portrays the father of one of the Exonerated 5 with aplomb, and with Latino sass and pride. Leguizamo embodies any Latino father who believes in his kid while also acknowledging that racial politics are not always in favor of minorities. We love the rage, vulnerability, and love that Leguizamo is able to infuse his character with. 

When he decided to do his awesome Netflix special Latin History for Morons.

Credit: Latin History for Morons / Netflix

Leguizamo released an amazing Netflix special in which he basically unpacks the history of Latin America and Latinos in the United States in a brutal, yet humorous way. He talks about the savage Spanish rule in the continent, migration and the importance of preserving Spanish. The special is based, of course, on Leguizamo’s one-man Broadway show. Wanna see him? Visit  https://latinhistorybroadway.com/ for dates and tickets! Billboard raves about his show: “Latin History for Morons couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. It feels like the perfect complement to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. And it provides a security blanket for people of color in knowing their place and value in a world that’s constantly telling them they don’t matter.” You had us at “morons”. 

He supports Latino politicians to bring our community to power.

Credit: Instagram. @johnleguizamo

The 2020 election will be defined by the variety of voices among the Democratic presidential hopefuls, regardless of whether Donald Trump gets reelected or not. Leguizamo stands by his ideas and supports candidates like Julian Castro, a proud Latino!

He puts his money where his mouth is, supporting Latino talent.

Credit: Instagram. @johnleguizamo

Leguizamo owns NGL Collective, a media company that produces content for the Latino market. Their philosophy: is based on being a “company forged from a pioneering entrepreneurial spirit that today is a leading digital media and entertainment company super-serving the US Latinx marketplace”. Not many seasoned Hollywood actors would actually put manos a la obra, but Leguizamo is not just any celebrity. He says: “I like helping people achieve their dreams just like people helped me.”

He always speaks out against hate.

Credit: Instagram. @johnleguizamo

On his Instagram account, where he is very active by the way, he often shares heartbreaking stories of racial abuse against Latinos. For example, this terrible act of violence against a mother who was physically abused while picking up her son from school. 

Leguizamo has said basta to the way that authorities are treating kids at the border.

Credit: Instagram. @johnleguizamo

Leguizamo has been one of the most fierce critics of the zero tolerance position of the Trump administration. As a true connoisseur of US history, Leguizamo often points to the fact that this country was built on the shoulders of immigrants who arrived from all over the world seeking to build a better life. Leguizamo is also often attending marches and raising funds for just causes. He once said: “When you feel the world is against you or you give up hope, you look at your heroes and say, they were able to do it. They had hard times and a lot of opposition but they got through it. Then you feel, I can do it too”. We wonder how many young Latinos look up to him; we are guessing un chingo

He spreads his gospel of truth.

Credit: Instagram. @johnleguizamo

Amen to this great message on his Insta, where he encapsulates his believes. LGBTQ rights, immigration rights, women’s rights, Black lives mater, we should save the planet and treat each other kindly. If we all lived by these principles otro gallo nos cantaria and the world would be a much better place. Se vale soñar

We’ve all wished that some of his jokes were actually facts.

Credit: Instagram. @johnleguizamo

If 20 years ago someone had said that the host of a reality show in which the premise was to fire people and basically humiliate them for the sake of ratings would be sitting in the Oval Office, we would have laughed that suggestion off as pure silliness, right? And yet… So this suggestion by Leguizamo that he could run in 2020 is not totally nuts, is it?  By the way: did you see the awesome Mexican actress Kate Del Castillo liked this post? What about she runs for vice president?

READ: ‘To Wong Foo’ Is An Undeniable Gay Cult Classic And John Leguizamo’s Role As A Drag Queen Is Still One Of The Best Performances

‘To Wong Foo’ Is An Undeniable Gay Cult Classic And John Leguizamo’s Role As A Drag Queen Is Still One Of The Best Performances

Entertainment

‘To Wong Foo’ Is An Undeniable Gay Cult Classic And John Leguizamo’s Role As A Drag Queen Is Still One Of The Best Performances

To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar / Universal Pictures

“To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Juli Newmar” is one of the greatest gay cult classics of the 20th century. The movie follows three drag queens, played by John Leguizamo, Patrick Swayze, and Wesley Snipes as they make their way from New York to California for a drag queen pageant. The movie, released in 1995, gave the drag queen and LGBTQ+ community a diverse and exceptionally rare moment of representation during the 1990s. Now, since the movie is being release in Blu-Ray, John Leguizamo sat down and told Shout! Factory what he did to get into the character of Chi Chi Rodriguez.

John Leguizamo gave Latina drag queens rare and exceptional representation during the 1995 gay cult classic “To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar.”

Credit: @mathewrodriguez / Twitter

For so many Latino fans of the movie, it is the first time they ever saw themselves represented in media. Chi Chi Rodriguez was a major moment for queer Latino representation in the 1990s when being gay was still taboo in mainstream media. Alongside co-stars Wesley Snipes and Patrick Swayze, Leguizamo was able to bring a Latina drag queen to a larger audience.

Now that the movie is being released on Blu-Ray, Leguizamo sat down with Shout! Factory and discussed what it took to be Chi Chi Rodriguez.

“I was just like, ‘Oh my God. Let me sink my teeth into this Chi Chi Rodriguez. I know how to bring her to life,” Leguizamo told Shout! Factory. “‘I know I can just ramp it up, man. Like, Chi Chi Rodriguez on steroids.’”

Leguizamo wanted to make sure that he truly captured what it meant to be a Latino drag queen.

“I’m a writer so I look at the three-act structure of a screenplay and I always want to have an arc to my character. If you’re the lead, you have a large arch, and that’s incredible,” Leguizamo explains. “But, you know, I was the third lead so my arc was a little smaller but it was good enough for me to go from being sort of rough around the edges to being this polished drag queen. That was my journey, you know, and it was all about accepting my ethnicity.”

Chi Chi Rodriguez’s story arc was hyper-focused on coming to terms with her identity.

“I had my face done really light all the time because I have family members who [have] issues with self-hate and race,” Leguizamo says. “So their face skin will be like five times lighter than the color of their neck. So, that always tripped me out so I wanted to put a little bit of that into it.”

Leguizamo brought his authentic experience to the role and it centered around makeup and colorism that is toxic within the Latino community.

“At the end of the movie, my neck and my face matched,” Leguizamo explains. “My face is much darker. So, that was the arc. Chi Chi becomes polished but accepting of herself, mature, romantically grows. She just becomes instead of a taker, she becomes a giver.”

You can watch Joh Leguizamo’s full interview below.

Check out “To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar” and get your pride celebrations started off right.

READ: The 24 Slayingest Latina Queens From ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’

Paid Promoted Stories